Stuff We Like: Momma Love

New York City-based photographer Ali Smith has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund her second book, Momma Love, which uses powerful images to show the true motherhood experience–far beyond what we see in the media and on our Facebook feeds. Get a sneak peek of the book here, and find out how you can help bring more Momma Love into the world.
Amy Ryan and daughter Georgia

In “Momma Love,” Oscar-nominated actress and New York resident Amy Ryan discusses raising her daughter Georgia under the lens of image-obsessed Hollywood.

Who Loves You, Momma?

Ali Smith is a born-and-bred New Yorker who’s danced with the ballet at Lincoln Center and toured the world with a rock band, but she still thinks being a mom is the most drama-filled job out there. For the past 12 years, Smith—who’s also a professional photographer—has been working on a book called Momma Love; How the Mother Half Lives. Through the striking portraits and stories of 40 mothers, Smith hopes to shine a light on the realities of motherhood—beyond what we see on TV and in our Facebook feeds.

“I think there’s a real dearth of honest conversation about the motherhood experience, and there’s a lot of pressure on women to publicly live it gracefully,” says Smith, the mom of a 3-year-old. “It’s not cool to lose your cool, or to change your body, or to not be able to keep up in a way you once did. In terms of employment and social status, it’s easy to lose your footing. There are these antiquated notions of how we’re supposed to be living butting up against how we are living, and there’s not a lot of compassion for that.”

Several of the 40 women featured in Momma

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Love hail from the New York City area. They range from Oscar-nominated actress Amy Ryan, who discusses parenting in image- and youth-obsessed Hollywood, to Catherine Gaynor, a Long Island mother and advocate whose daughter Sophia suffers from a rare disease. See the slideshow below for more local moms whose stories you’ll find in the book.

Through the photographs in Momma Love, Smith hopes to present an honest portrait of a mother’s love, which comprises the love a mother shows and the love she is shown by others. “I hope this will be empowering for women and make them feel less alone,” she says. “Politically, I hope it can have some impact for people other than mothers who learn about the truth of the experience. Things like flexible work hours and family-friendly political policies won’t change unless there is genuine compassion for the motherhood experience.”


Show Some Momma Love

Smith signed a publishing deal for Momma Love six months ago, but the publisher folded abruptly just three months later, taking her financial investment with it. After a month of crying and cursing, Smith says, she decided the setback wouldn’t stop her from publishing the book. In March, she turned to Kickstarter, where she found a community that connected with her mission. “It’s really empowering to take the power away from the industries and give it to the community it’s meant for,” Smith says. “I’ve met so many amazing people who have been super eager to share their stories of motherhood. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

If all goes well and Smith reaches her fundraising goal of $35,000 by April 10, Momma Love; How the Mother Half Lives will be published and available beginning May 1 for purchase at,, and through major booksellers.


A Few of the Amazing Women Featured in Momma Love:

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